What is the issue here?
The issue here is the right to expression especially on the offensive and threatening languages used in infosphere specifically the social media. It also borders the United States constitutional right to free expression, which was amended; which however does not give an inclusion to the making of inimical threats targeted at an individual. With the increased use of social media and microblogging, this issue has taken center stage as it has enabled many people to get a medium for threatening and use of abusive language. One case of an aspiring rapper Anthony Elonis attracts attention.
He reportedly posted damaging remarks on Facebook about his purportedly separated wife including statements on intimidations of taking her life. He was later arrested under the federal law for allegedly using state lines to transmit coercions and threats. Motions for case dismissal were filed on the grounds of protected speech use rather than genuine threats. However, this agreement was unconsidered rendering it as unconstitutional according to First Amendment of the right to expression. This also aroused the question of what standard legal procedures explains a true threat, if there is no valid intent to harm. After a series of legal battles and interpretations, he would then be condemned and sentenced to four-year jail term. This was followed by an appeal to the conviction by the lawyers claiming it the ruling of the judges was not constitutional. Nevertheless, hastily Court of Appeals Third Circuit again upheld the judgment. It opposed the argument that proof a clear intent of harm was needed, making the overturning of Elonis case fail as had been hoped by his jury and the proceedings proximately started to entice national attention. Activists of free speech were out articulating absolute hesitations about the repercussions on people who post on social media articulating their issues. This evidently resurfaced during supreme court's legal drama on the same case. Here the lawyers argued that the court should reconsider the case given that online communication cannot be interpreted, as it is vulnerable to misapprehension. This case is still heard in the Supreme Court in the year 2015.It is important that this case is resolved to allow expression on freedom on social media.
Who are the stakeholders?
The interested parties in this matter are the users of social media, who are the ones exposed to this threat of verbal miscommunication. It involves law enforcers of the federal government and the state law enforcers who are the custodians of the law. The courts of law are involved in the interpretation of the law concerning freedom of speech as written in the constitution. Activists of free speech fight for the users of online media trying to find the real meaning of threats on social media. They too are stakeholders
What is the right standard for determining online threat, why is it more complicated in the world of interactive social media?
The right standard for determining online threat is following the federal laws on freedom of speech and its comprehension. This is because it is challenging to know true threats on social media and the ones that are not serious. It is hard to differentiate between valid threats posed on social media and those that are simply rhetoric. Therefore, it is right that people simply follow the due law on what is the boundary for freedom of speech.
This issue is more complicated on social media because the intent of the threats in social media is hard to determine. This makes it hard to follow the law on freedom of speech. One may assume that the posts on social media are not necessarily planned attacks on the victims but merely rhetoric and expression of feelings.
How did the Supreme Court resolve this case? Do you agree? If you were one of the nine justices, would you uphold Eloniss conviction or toss it out?
The judges of the Supreme Court overturned the former rulings terming it very hard to prosecute people for reasons of Facebook postings and several other social media. Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that prosecutors must do much to convince that reasonable people can view statements as threats. He said that the principles of criminal law are more intent-oriented more than involvement in the protection of free speech. I do not agree since it violates a law that is clear on freedom of speech and undermines the possibility of further respect to the law. If I were one of the judges, I would uphold Elonis conviction to justify the course of the law.
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